What’s not to love about Dr. Chris Brown?
The TEN star, who now appears across three network programmes, has never been busier, but while some talent gets criticised for being over-exposed or polarising viewers, you’d be hard-pressed to hear a word against Dr. Chris.
“There are a few!” he laughs.
“You always have your knockers. There’s no way you can get through life without having at least some.
“We stirred the pot a little bit with a campaign on The Project to help out retired racehorses and that brought a few haters out of the woodwork. The very nature of dealing with animals is that everyone has an opinion and you do everything to the best of your abilities. But sometimes people have the belief you could do it better. And I welcome that, it’s not really an issue.”
If that’s the worst that comes his way, then by television standards he has a cushy ride. But it’s one Brown has earned.
2013 has been exhausting, literally, with television commitments and more.
“Trying to juggle Bondi Vet, The Living Room and The Project has been one of the most productive times I’ve had and brought some amazing opportunities. I’ve travelled the world and seen some amazing things and helped out medically with some animals I never thought I’d ever have the chance to work on,” he says.
“But the downside of travelling so much is that sometimes your health gets knocked around, and I guess the City to Surf was probably a good example of that. It’s a year I won’t forget in a hurry.”
In August, Brown made news when he collapsed during the annual City2Surf Run in Sydney, having participated whilst he had a virus.
This year Bondi Vet generated its biggest output yet, with 20 x 60 mins episodes -a vast increase on the previous 16 x 30 mins. Brown isn’t just a Bondi Vet in name only, but now his media work means fronting at his Bondi veterinarian practice is less frequent.
“I still make a point of being in there at least every two weeks and that’s sort of my yardstick. I’ll be in there hopefully for two days every two weeks but sometimes it’s just a day,” he concedes.
“For me it’s just a very real connection which I really enjoy, chatting to owners of animals, hanging out and seeing them, doing very straightforward things like vaccinations and desexing and all that sort of stuff.
“But it’s where I sort of feel normal.”
In September the WTFN produced series began airing on CBS as part of a “Dream Team” block of lifestyle shows on Saturday mornings.
“They don’t really know what Bondi is and there opinion of what a ‘vet’ is, is very different to ours. So it’s called Dr. Chris: Pet Vet. It’s on CBS and I’m heading over next week to check in and see how it’s all going,” Brown explains.
“There’s a bank of programming they put to air with Jamie Oliver and lifestyle shows that I think they’re hoping will inspire Americans to take a bit more interest in their cooking and pets.
“They’re always amazed at how you get a kangaroo in Bondi and they make interesting comments about your accent. Someone was even convinced a dog had an Australian accent, which I believe is very hard to substantiate.
“There have been a few interesting comments, but I tend not to look at them and I certainly don’t take them seriously.”
Brown has also filmed 40 episodes this year of The Living Room for TEN, with production on both shows happening concurrently.
“The delineation is if the animal needs help then it’ll end up as a Bondi Vet story whereas if it’s just a vet travelling and seeing some amazing wildlife or something incredible then it becomes a Living Room story.
“(The team is) incredibly tight and we all have each other’s backs –or as Miguel (Maestre) says, ‘We all have each other’s bags.’ Something gets lost in the translation there and I have to inform him that’s theft rather than a supportive gesture!
“We all have a lot of fun and catch up for dinner to workshop new ideas for the show. We’re really happy with the balance between lifestyle information and giving people tips about what they can get up to on the weekend. But it’s Friday night so we want people to have fun and put away the stress of the working week and come into our living room to have a bit of a laugh –at Miguel’s expense, which is the best kind of laugh.
“Amanda (Keller) steers the ship so beautifully, and she’s such a pro. But we aren’t scared to give each other a little bit of grief which hopefully people enjoy.”
Both shows are produced by WTFN, while The Project is with Roving Enterprises. Brown has been with WTFN since 2009.
“For someone who does a lot of hours of television they don’t seem too averse to throwing me into situations where my life is in danger. We do joke about it but there’s increasing concern on my part that they are trying to kill me off,” he jokes.
“Between swimming with sharks to a marathon to lion country in Kenya to wrestling 8 metre snakes in Thailand, I nearly got eaten alive by fish in Malaysia a few weeks ago.”
Brown has just commenced production on another 20 episodes of Bondi Vet for 2014 plus a new season of The Living Room. There are no signs of slowing down just yet.
Being so well-liked and in demand, I can’t help but ask: have other networks ever tried to lure him across?
“Yes I’ve had approaches, he admits, “but they don’t go too far because I’m contracted to TEN and I love what I do. I can’t think of a better way to spend my year than in this crazy whirlpool of animals and travel.
“It’s incredibly stimulating and exhausting but at the same time I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The Living Room extended Christmas episode airs 7:30pm Friday 29th November on TEN.
Bondi Vet season final airs 7:30pm Saturday 30th November on TEN.
The Project airs 6:30pm weeknights on TEN.